Why Do Rappers Love Scarface? – The Death of Black Cinema

I dunno if it’s been said before but I’ma go ahead and say it here: Hip hop’s fascination with the movie Scarface is weird. No disrespect to the big homie Scarface, of course, but just in general the way artists treat that movie as gospel has always kinda weirded me out.

Personally, I like the elementary school play version way better than the OG movie. It’s not a bad movie at all but it’s just…

Well, it’s a tad overrated.

I mean, people do the same thing with the Godfather and I’d say that’s a bit more justified ’cause that shit is DOPE as fuck. Hell, I’d put Goodfellas over Scarface.

Okay, I get why people idolize these mobster films, it’s like grown up cops-n-robbers. Root for the bad guy even. But you can’t front, that shit is still kinda weird.

But the idolization of Tony Montana has spawned some great moments in Black cinema. Just look at Master P’s tour de force Bout It Bout It or Cam’s Killa Season. The movies that rappers put out on that straight to DVD tip are usually pretty awesome in the way that only bad cinema can be. Usually when it hits theaters and movie houses are behind it then it feels a bit like mockery.

Pairing film and music is just logical. It’s why films have scores and soundtracks. Music is a mood-altering drug that enhances any moment you are in. That’s why slow jams set the mood for fuckin’ just as fast as Uncle Murda probably sets the tone for, well… murder.

Music is as much of an escape for the artist as it is for the listener, even more so actually. It’s the mental equivalent to playing dress-up, where men can give themselves nicknames and pretend they have shot as many people as they like followed by gratuitous sex with model chicks that they don’t have a shot in hell of getting busy with.

Just look at Nas’ pastel suited homage to Casino, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6yjUxr4f0o Biggie’s suicidal-ly cinematic first effort, or Wu Tang’s lifelong tribute to kung fu flicks.

Oh, and before I go, I just wanna say that the Biggie movie Notorious wasn’t good at all until it hit the end where they showed the actual footage of the funeral parade for him. For cats that wasn’t in NYC and don’t know Brooklyn, that shit was amazing to see. I’d have been happier had they just shot the film documentary style and used that footage as the backbone.

What y’all thinking?

  • http://Pierzy11@gmail.com Pierzy

    “Hell, I’d put Goodfellas over Scarface.”

    ^^^^^^^
    Co-Sign. I’ve been saying that for years. The Godfather II is REALLY that shit too.

    • yoprince

      honestly.. this is common knowledge, right?

      don’t get me wrong, Scarface is memorable for its ridiculous ambition, and over-the-top 80′s sentiment… but Goodfellas and the Godfather Parts I and II are cinematic masterpieces.

      • KLETEWOOD

        When it comes to coke slanging movies…

        I’d put the movie BLOW over Scarface. George Jung was responsible for 85% of the coke trade in the 70′s and 80′s. He was an entrepreneur for the Medellin cartel and worked directly for “El Padrone”. THAT’S SOME SHIT.

        Tony Montana is JUST a crazy Cuban with gigantic balls. Rappers are trying to respect a dude that jacks everyone, goes to war with his boss….kills his best friend, kills his sister and dies.

        Fools got it backwards…

        • BossGame

          Yeah I forgot about Blow. Pacino was grand in The God Father trilogy, and I’m a fan but it seems like everything he’s done since, borders on parody (Cept Dog Day afternoon and Donnie Brasco)He makes every character bigger than life and sometimes that’s a bit much.

        • yoprince

          BLOW was cool. but let’s be real, it was almost a family drama as opposed to a true gangster flick.

  • http://xxlmag.com SAM

    I agree with the Biggie film, was emotional seeing those final scenes.

    Scarface is a great film, similarities to american gangster

  • Dante

    Rappers have bad taste.

    Carlito’s Way, Goodfellas and plenty of other similar movies shit all over Scarface.

    • Perrucci

      Carlitos Way is def way better than Scarface, and it has the same director and same lead actor. I don’t understand why the world ignores these films and praise Scarface. Pacino’s performance wasn’t even that good in it.

  • DV8

    you didnt elaborate on your take on the death of black cinema.

    There are plenty of Black Cinema villians in those 70′s blaxpoitation flicks that rappers could try to emulate and take on the name. Say what you want about Rick Ross (the rapper) at least he took on an actual black drug dealers name. Only problem was the guy is still alive.

    What ever happened to that kid from Chicago, Bumpy Johnson?

    • http://xxlmag.com Busta Rhymes’ coke connect

      Whats up with these rappers praising John Gotti and other italian mobsters??? From what I’ve read most of em didnt even like black ppl. I’ve heard of stories where they told their workers to only sell drugs to blacks and not their own. Oh and Bump J is currently locked up for robbing a bank smh.

      • Grizzly Benguin

        This is true re: Italian mobsters selling drugs in the black neighborhoods and not their own (See The Barzini meeting in Godfather Part I).

        I think the reason rappers idolize the Italian mob however is how they handled business and took care of their own. They were the quintessential gangsters down to the three piece suits. They also had a code of honor and family and not snitching that I think the rap community respected and ultimately embraced.

        Oh and rappers peddle drugs in their own communities through lyrics that perpetuate the struggle and claim they are just “keeping it real”. So, it’s really no surprise when you think about it.

  • OG Matt Herbz

    “I told you a long time ago, you fucking little monkey, not to fuck ME!”

    Scarface is tight; I can’t really find fault with it. Pacino took the role and as they say, made it “larger than life.” It has tremendous entertainment value even if it’s a bit of a stretch, story-wise.

    And it’s only popular because your favorite rapper saw it on their favorite rapper’s episode of Cribs and felt like their studio gangsta’ image wouldn’t be complete if they didn’t also pay homage to Scarface.

    –OG Matt Herbz–

  • http://xxlmag.com Busta Rhymes’ coke connect

    Rappers fascination with Scarface is simple- The classic rags to riches story. Which is the story for most rappers. Even without all the chainsaws in bathrooms and shit. Everybody loves a come up story.

    But yeah Scarface the movie is overrated. I didnt see it for the 1st time until a couple yrs back and me seeing it was just off of the millions of rap niggas who rave about it. I finally seen it and was like “yeah……..it was good……….but thats it? Though I did like the fact that Tony got killed. In real life,things dont always have a happy ending.

    Another movie thats overrated is Menace to Society. The lead actor was charles barkley terrible. Pac shouldve got that role.

    • DV8

      Pac had the role. He got into it with the directors (remember that incident with the Hughes Bros?) and got kicked off the movie.

      • http://xxlmag.com Busta Rhymes’ coke connect

        Yeah I know. 1 of the hughes bros recently came out and finally spoke on the incident. Im just saying,Pac wouldve been a better fit imo

        • Curtis75Black

          Funny thing is, Pac wasn’t gonna play the lead role. He was gonna play Charles Dutton’s Son. The Nucklehead turned Muslim.

    • sb

      i remember when this movie came out on vhs..I used to watch it everyday after school. I wasn’t the only one, my classmate used to do the same thing. We used to do the dialogues from the various scenes at school for kicks

  • Moving Sideways

    Scarface is what it is, an 80s cocaine dealing gangster movie. It’s OK as that, but don’t try to look any further into it. I will say however, that the highlight of the thing is Pacino, because I could watch him yell-act his way through “Bridges of Madison County” and still be entertained, in fact that shit would be hilarious.

    To be fair to the hip-hop community though, I don’t understand white people’s fascination with Boondock Saints either. I think tough guys with accents and guns killing folks with reckless abandon just touches something inside your average male (no Catholic priest).

    • yoprince

      you’re right. Boondocks Saints is pretty bad. and don’t even mention the sequel.

      I’d take Scarface over Boondocks Saint EASILY any day though, so score one for the hip-hop community.

  • http://xxlmag.com yunggee

    Pac killed dat role… dats where his career must’ve broke out… there are better mob flixx but at dat time, wut was fucking wit scarface???

  • Grizzly Benguin

    Scarface is all about cheesy music and great 1-liners. “Say Hello to my little friend”, etc. They make the movie funny, yet dramatic. Although the role is WAY over-acted, Pacino plays the ultimate bad ass in Tony Montana and his is the ultimate rags to riches story. People want to believe that if they “don’t take no shit from nobody” and follow “their word and their balls” they can take over the world like Tony. Unfortunately, they more likely end up like Monolo.

    Godfather > Scarface > Carlito’s Way

  • Eddie Blanco

    N’s want 2 be Scarface, but they ain’t see the end of the movie- Jadakiss

  • BossGame

    Sell it to the Blacks…They’re animals anyway. (Character in the GodFather) I have always love this movie for it’s storyline, but i never understood cats emulating them in their raps or style. It’s funny cuz when Scarface came out it was widely panned. I remember the Cuban people in Miami were up in arms about it. Especially about Pacino’s accent. You’d be better off calling ya self Kunta Kinte than Gotti IMHO. But the most of my heros don’t appear on no stamps.

  • http://ApostrophePrroductionsLLC(facebook) B’Daren Payne

    Excuse the language…

    Niggas love “Scarface” simply becouse it’s about one thing, Getting over on society/The white man. Making money uncle sam can’t touch (Or so you think. Who you think gave you the dope in the first place?)Now, speaking as a BLACKMAN first and formost, I know my people. And we LOVE wanting to be paid for not doing shit. We get into the rap GAME and we for the most part do our bizness well. The conbination of having your own label/Empire/corperation is a wonderful thing. Your working your own hours to get out of a 9 too 5, (and in owning your own, requiers u to work about the same or longer that that everyday) and u don’t have eny “Crackers” bossing you around. We saw that on screen, fit that persona to whatever we were doing, and rode that MFer’ till the weels feel off.
    -Call me a Lie…4′z

    • Not Brainwashed Like B’Daren

      [quote]I know my people. And we LOVE wanting to be paid for not doing shit.[/quote] Exclusive to black folks, right? Riiiiiiight… *rolls eyes and cracks open a book on the history of the African slave trade*

      Woe is the negro that thinks…

      • Lemme try that again…

        “I know my people. And we LOVE wanting to be paid for not doing shit.”

        Exclusive to black folks, right? Riiiiiiight…

        *rolls eyes and cracks open a book on the history of the African slave trade*

        Woe is the negro that thinks…

        • http://www.bboycult.com $yk

          “We get into the rap GAME and we for the most part do our bizness well. The conbination of having your own label/Empire/corperation is a wonderful thing.”

          ^ Most rappers don’t own their publishing, invest in horrible business ventures, and spend ridiculously on trinkets that de-value rapidly to upkeep an image. How is this doing business well?

          “and u don’t have eny “Crackers” bossing you around.”

          ^ I don’t think you even believe this one. Guess who’s signing the checks, calling you to meet the deadlines, choosing how to market you and what records will make the project.

          ‘Superfly’>’Scarface’

          Priest resembles WAAAAYYY more rappers than Tony Montana.

          And not because of his color either.

  • BossGame

    I’d take “Angels With Dirty Faces” over Scarface any day. James Cagney was the shyt!!! (Gotta dig in the vaults for that one LOL)

  • BossGame

    “Once upon a Time in America” is another good one also (If you can find it)

  • BossGame

    @B’Daren Payne

    You right brah! It’s just that oblivion at the end that never appealed to me. Meyer Lansky died of old age in Miami. That always had a lot more appeal to me than that “blaze of glory stuff” LOL

    Guess I rather live to tell the story.

  • Brooklyn

    because tony montana was THAT dude…but seriously, you gotta look at the time that “scarface” came out. the early 80′s, reaganomics was killing niggas economically, crack was starting to kill the hood, and the whole image of american success was consumerism and materialism. this was a time when bigger was better, eveything was flashy, and “scarface” was like visual cocaine. it’s also inspirational in a weird way, tony montana was broke as shit when he came over here, but dude ruthlessly carved his way to the top, got a bad ass crib, some bad ass whips, and a bad ass chick (michelle pfeiffer was fine as hell in that movie). it’s the american dream with a twist–and that’s why all those gangster movies are popular, because they all start with dudes broke as fuck getting money, power, and respect by being ruthless and unscrupulous and living the high life while they’re on top.

    • King Joffy Joe

      Co-sign @ Brooklyn. It’s about damn time somebody mentioned how shitty the “Regan Era”, actually was.

  • these posts are racist

    It’s not weird at all. Every poor kid from the ‘hood wants to grow up and be rich and powerful; be the “man”, the “boss” and read a blimp that reads “the world is yours.” In a society where a person is defined and judged by their wealth, it is only natural to aspire such excess. Also, we, as a society, value and define men by their strength. Why do soldiers get so much love and respect? Because killing is cool…So no, it’s not weird for rappers’ fixation with Scarface, it’s normal, may’ne.

  • these posts are racist

    It’s not weird at all. Every poor kid from the ‘hood wants to grow up and be rich and powerful; be the “man”, the “boss” and read a blimp that reads “the world is yours.” In a society where a person is defined and judged by their wealth, it is only natural to aspire such excess. Also, we, as a society, value and define men by their strength. Why do soldiers get so much love and respect? Because killing is cool…So no, it’s not weird for rappers’ fixation with Scarface, it’s normal, may’ne…

  • Jay stone

    finally someone mention ONES UPON A TIME IN AMERICA..
    It shit on scarface and d’niro acting was fantastic.
    What about Reservoir Dogs?

  • sway-z

    Everybody can relate to the rags to riches story, that’s what gives Scarface and all movies like it their appeal. Plus, niggas wish they had enough balls to actually live out their rhymes like that, which is also why they cling on to the local “tough guy” from their hood when they get on and throw him in the clique, knowing damn well he’s only there for protection, not out of “love” for where you come from.

    That being said, I just can’t fuck with those movies like that because in reality, Cubans & especially Italians, hate black people. So how the fuck you idolize people that hate you?

    That scene in The Godfather when they talking about moving into the drug trade is true shit, they loved to leave that shit for the “niggers” to kill themselves, and our dumb ass ain’t prove them wrong yet. At least A Bronx Tale brought some reality to the situation, and IMO, is the best movie dealing with that lifestyle anyway

  • Atlanta Black Cats

    Dope is played out

  • BossGame

    “Hoodlum” with Laurence Fishburn was another good one (Don’t know how acurate it was) There this flick with Sean Penn and Christopher Walken in that enre that was pretty dope. I think it was called “At Close Range”. “Resevior Dogs” was pretty good for what it was. Anybody remember “Book of Numbers” with Freda Payne and the cat from Miami Vice? Hard to find that one.

  • http://www.jamal7mile.blogspot.com Jamal7Mile

    Good comments on here. Gotta hit Netflix on some of these titles yall putting out there.

  • Notorious AGC

    havent they already made like 3 blogs in the past about this EXACT subject?…

  • http://yahoo.com MR.MEAN

    Scarface is a great. KING OF NEW YORK IS THE SHIT!!!!! Frank white put everybody on. It’s hard to stay at the top.

  • BossGame

    Been watching this show called the Tudors. I think Henry VIII had em all beat when it came to being gangster. LOL

    • Brooklyn

      yo, “the tudors” is my shit! henry 8 was definitely gangsta, who else can kill 2 of their wives and get away with it?

  • pj

    Sorry but king of new york was a total dud. The untouchables and the departed are way better films. as for scarface, it’s like rap nowadays- overrated and cheesy.

  • The Spaniard

    Look at the news archive of Miami circa 78-85.

    If nothing else, Scarface is a pin point accurate telling of that time in history.

    Saying you like or dislike Scarface is subjective, true enough, but it seems saying you don’t like it is the new in-thing.

  • Fuck you

    Your a tool. Seriously.

    Reply how you will but you know it’s true. “Notorious” Was a good movie, nothing great but it was interesting. And Scarface isn’t as good as the Godfather but it was still a GREAT movie.

  • Escobar9300

    Personally, my favorite rap interpretation of Scarface was 2pac in the Two of Americas most wanted video. “Buff” and “Piggy” had me rolling lol

  • BossGame

    Dungeon Family and Cool Breeze did a nice send up of Resevior Dogs on “Watch for the Hook”.

  • http://www.bboycult.com $yk

    Question:

    So IF all of us can relate to the “rags to riches” story, then why aren’t more of us rich????

    Dispute the fact that more of us are STILL in rags and become savages in the pursuit of happiness (KAT STACKS IS A PERFECT EXAMPLE OF THIS).

    We are infatuated with drugs, violence, materialistic items, sex, and gossip. Our social equality reflects this.

    More of us know MORE about Jordans than slavery. More of us know more about what Jordans look like and bootleg J’s than how to buy steak cuts and what color is best to purchase.

    When is the last time any of y’all watched ‘Bucktown’? ‘Three The Hard Way’? ‘Shaft’(the original)’ or ‘Shaft In Africa’?

    No need to answer, there are more “Gotti’s” than ‘Shaft’s’ (pause if you feel you need to).

    I dunno about y’all, but the best movie ever was ‘Roots’. Showed you the really real, EARLY.

    But I OVERstand, Kunta wasn’t real to you (one the realest characters shown the last 40 years) , we need not relate to his poorness and struggle, we’re better off as a race to associate ourselves with known racists, it’s better look. These “mentors” like ‘Scarface’ & Meyer Lansky (raise your hand if you’ve been to his place in Lower East Side in NY) give you motivation.

    Now chew on that.

    • http://www.bboycult.com $ykotic Don McCaine

      This thought was insipired by the homie:

      B Easy- ‘Politikkks’

      ‘$ykoticMindz’, hosted by Don McCaine, coming soon…

      • DV8

        “Y”

  • BossGame

    I wasn’t saying aspire to be like Meyer Lansky brah! I just used that to say I could never get with that going out in a blaze of glory bullshyt that so many cats try to emulate. I agree with you on Roots also. I’ve been in the Army going on 23 years in December and The military always stresses “Tactical and Technical proficiency when executing a plan. This is probably one of the few things I plan to hold on to when I take this uniform off for the final time in December. What always appealed to me about any of these flicks was the tactical plannning and strategy. Bingo Long Allstar and Motor Kings, Adio Amigo (Richard Pyror)Mean Johnny Barrows, Which way is up? I always loved it when the brothers got to walk off in to sunset. To me, that’s when they won. Another thing, I always hated that movie “Life” I just never saw shyt funny about two brother spend their whole life in prison for some shyt that they didn’t do. Stay Blessed!

    • DV8

      Salute

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  • http://www.justice.gov.za Chiliz

    Oh boy!! i’m really late 4 this comments. Scarface is the iiissssssh 4 me i will watch that sh*t over n over again.

  • Gabos

    thats because this man made it he came poor and end rich as hell.he lived his american dream wich is my dream 2.nigga i love this movie one day i’ll have a tiger too nigga

  • billyfromdbronxz

    What’s overrated is the opinion of the guy who posted this piece of shit.

  • KingPin

    The OP is a certified TWAT. Get ready to get fucked Cuntface…

  • iceberg

    That’s why blacks will never be on the same level as the Italians, Russians and Mexicans. Let’s face it, the Bloods and the Crips are nothing more than dimestore hoodlums with guns. You think you’re tough just because you have an AK? Give me a break.

  • Holymushroom

    I’d take Scarface over Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction any day. And you think Notorious isn’t dope huh? Gee, you have such high standards

  • The Swede

    A classic Shakespearean tale about a man’s rise to power and eventual downfall. Pachino’s character swimming in his own blood. Now how classic is that? Maybe you should watch Sex and the City instead since you’re such a pussy